DEAR HARRIETTE: I got really frustrated with my boss last week because she has not been answering my queries in a timely manner. I have left her voicemails and emails and requested meetings so that we can iron out some key details about an upcoming project, and all I get back are crickets. Nothing. Nada. She is very busy, so she isn't in the office much. I would go sit in her office and try to talk to her face-to-face, but I don't know when she will be there. How can I get my job done if she doesn't handle her part of it? What can I do to protect myself? I'm afraid that we are going to have a disaster on our hands if she doesn't take action, and I don't want to be blamed for it. -- In Knots, San Diego
DEAR IN KNOTS: Document everything and do your best to stay calm and professional while you are at it. Instead of firing off an angry email when you are feeling frustrated, take a walk, do some deep breathing and let off steam in a private, safe way.
With your boss, be extremely professional and clear. You can title your emails "URGENT," "TIME SENSITIVE," "DEADLINE TODAY" or something similar to stress the importance of the situation. Keep her apprised of the risks involved in not responding in a timely manner. In writing, remind her of all of the details of the project and where things stand. Make your notes succinct. You may want to bullet point or number each item to make it easy for her to respond to you.
When deadlines pass, send her a note. When you see a crisis looming, inform her of your concern. Keep all communication brief and unemotional.